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Why should medical students get involved with global surgery?

Global surgery is an emerging and exciting field where you have the potential to help people in resource-poor settings gain access to life saving and life changing surgery. As a medical student you are ideally positioned to get involved in global surgery at an early stage of your career where there is the opportunity to develop the passion and skills required to be able to make a meaningful and lasting impact as a global surgeon throughout your career.

Plastic and reconstructive surgery has a long and close relationship with global surgery. For many decades, plastic surgeons have been involved in providing reconstructive surgical procedures to populations in need. Areas of involvement are broad and may include patients with cleft lip and palate, patients with burns or patients with deformities of the hand to name but a few. As plastic surgery is a subspecialty area, surgeons in low and middle income countries (LMIC) may not have had training to manage these patients. There is therefore a great need for training and development of services in global reconstructive surgery.

Find out how you can get involved with the BFIRST Student Committee here

What role can medical students play in Global Surgery?

Medical students are a potentially valuable resource in the global surgery arena because of several qualities at their disposable including enthusiasm, time and academic skills. Despite these qualities and skills at their disposal, it is common to hear students say that they do not know how to get involved in global surgery. We hope that the information presented here will provide some guidance for students, enabling them to get involved with increased ease.

Electives are the most common time during undergraduate training where medical students will get the chance to experience global health and global surgery. The sky is the limit when it comes to what is possible to achieve during an elective and many students in the past have created opportunities in global reconstructive surgery that have gone on to shape their future careers. Whilst BFIRST does not arrange student electives, we can certainly encourage your involvement in global surgery and point towards opportunities that can help with the organisation and cost of your elective.


Are there any relevant educational conferences or courses in Global Surgery?

Courses and conferences provide the opportunity to learn about global surgery and network with key stakeholders in the field.


Global Surgery related courses:


Are there any research opportunities available in global surgery?

Research in gobal surgery is gaining in momentum and there has never been a better time for you as a medical student to get involved. Involvement in global research has the following advantages:


  • Benefit to the global population – global surgery epidemiological research is vital in the first place to define the problems and needs of LMIC communities so that meaningful interventions can be appropriately tailored. After an intervention has been introduced, global surgery outcomes research will be vital to ensure that the intervention is having a positive and beneficial effect.
  • Benefit to organisations – global surgery research will be helpful to organisations to demonstrate the impact of their work and help to secure funding
  • Benefit to the individual – involvement in global surgery research will equip the individual with the skills to be able to analyse data, to be able to assess the needs of a population and be able to decide whether an intervention has been successful. Gaining qualifications related to global surgery will help to validate your credentials in this area and reconstructive surgery.


Global Surgery research opportunities for medical students and trainees:

  • Kings College London MSc/BSc in Global Health – with specialist pathway in global surgery.
  • Program in Global Surgery and Social Change – run by the Harvard Medical School in USA, medical student can apply for a 1 year research associate position in this program which has earned itself an international reputation in the field of global surgery and research.


What funding opportunities are available for students in global surgery?

Involvement in LMIC projects can be expensive. Seeking funding helps with the financial burden but additionally it is good to have your work linked with key organisations.


Some medical student elective bursaries that are available on an annual basis are:


What prizes are available for students in global surgery?

Applying for prizes can provide you the opportunity to research a hot topic in Global Surgery, which can later on be presented and potentially published.


Global Surgery Prizes:


How do I find out more information?

Find out more about BFIRST Activities by signing up to be a BFIRST Trainee Member to receive updates on activities. Look out for updates on the website and social media (Follow on Facebook and Twitter).


Check out other Student Global Surgery Organisations that BFIRST Trainees collaborate with: